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Follow-up standards and treatment targets in rheumatoid arthritis: results of a questionnaire at the EULAR 2008
  1. Monika Schoels1,
  2. Daniel Aletaha2,
  3. Josef S Smolen1,2,
  4. Johannes W J Bijlsma3,
  5. Gerd Burmester4,
  6. Ferdinand C Breedveld5,
  7. Maurizio Cutolo6,
  8. Bernard Combe7,
  9. Maxime Dougados8,
  10. Paul Emery9,
  11. Joachim Kalden10,
  12. Edward C Keystone11,
  13. Tore K Kvien12,
  14. Emilio Martin-Mola13,
  15. Carlomaurizio Montecucco14,
  16. Maarten De Wit15
  1. 12nd Department of Medicine, Centre for Rheumatic Diseases, Hietzing Hospital, Vienna, Austria
  2. 2Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine 3, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
  3. 3Department of Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology, University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Humboldt University, Charite Hospital, Berlin, Germany
  5. 5Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands
  6. 6Research Laboratory and Academic Clinical Unit of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Genova, Italy
  7. 7Service d’Immuno-Rhumatologie, Montpellier I University, Lapeyronie Hospital, Montpellier, France
  8. 8Department of Rheumatology B, René Descartes University, Cochin Hospital, Paris, France
  9. 9Academic Unit of Musculoskeletal Disease, University of Leeds, UK
  10. 10Department of Internal Medicine III, Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen, Germany
  11. 11Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada
  12. 12Department of Rheumatology, Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  13. 13La Paz Hospital, Madrid, Spain
  14. 14Department of Rheumatology, University of Pavia, IRCCS Policlinico S Matteo, Pavia, Italy
  15. 15EULAR Standing Committee of People with Arthritis/Rheumatism in Europe, Zurich, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Josef S Smolen, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine 3, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria; josef.smolen{at}; josef.smolen{at}


Background Therapeutic approaches to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have undergone significant changes. The importance of tight control and early treatment, rapidly altered if goals are not achieved, is supported by evidence. However, it is unknown to what extent these insights are accepted by practitioners in clinical practice.

Objective To obtain information about standard follow-up and treatment practices, and rheumatologists' aims in the care of patients with RA.

Methods A survey conducted at the 2008 EULAR Congress.

Results Most specialists, who were mainly from Europe and Latin America, were well-informed about recent concepts: two-thirds specified remission as a major goal. The experts attempted to reach treatment aims within 12–14 weeks, altering treatment otherwise. Disease activity assessment by composite measures is performed by a majority, although one-third preferentially relied upon their judgment.

Conclusion These results suggest the acceptance of ambitious treatment concepts in practice. Although voluntary surveys have limitations, the answers reflect widespread adoption of desirable standards of care.

This paper is freely available online under the BMJ Journals unlocked scheme, see

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  • Funding The study was supported by an unrestricted grant from Abbott.

  • Competing interest Representatives of the company attended the initial meeting, but had no active participation or influence on the decision-making regarding the questions. In addition, none of the questions related to the use of particular treatments. The analyses were performed at the Medical University of Vienna. The handling editor was D T Boumpas.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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